People are motivated to marry for different reasons, and if there is one thing I have learned over the years is that there is no point in passing judgment on others. While ideally, we may all wish people would only marry because they believe they have found their soulmate, the fact is that as the years go on many get tired of the dating games or being alone, and the ticking of biological clocks or perhaps certain economic pressures often cause people to make compromises. Half of these unions will last, and half won’t– it’s a bit of a crap shoot, but hey you’re never going to win unless you play. Just be honest with yourself about what is at stake and which of these 3 reasons is motivating you to go on:
1. Financial Security– Since the beginning of time, marriage has been a way for families to establish financial security, and in today’s society there are many financial benefits to being married, such as reduced insurance rates and shared living expenses. The problem of course is that financial situations fluctuate, and as we saw during the Great Recession (i) no one has a guaranteed salary, and (ii) investments, including real estate can become worthless. This begs the question of whether you will be able to stay with someone in good times and in bad times, and that will greatly depend on a person’s character, not their wallet.
2. Having Children– Even though 40% of children in the U.S. are now being born out of wedlock, the majority still clearly prefers bringing kids into the world with an intact family. It makes perfect sense that we would want our children to live in one house with both parents, assuming those two can happily co-exist under one roof, but again in order to ensure that it’s not just about screening someone’s genes to see if s/he would breed good babies, but is that person a loving and decent human being that will join the child-rearing responsibilities, even when times get tough?
3. Love– Hopefully we can agree that there are different types or degrees of love, and that you can love someone without being “in love” with them. The difference in my opinion is that when you are in love with someone, you don’t see any of their faults and then find ways to overlook them. Instead you simply see endearing quirks that make the person that much more adorable. But regardless of the type of love you feel for someone at a certain point in time, the fact is feelings are fluid, and your perception may change overtime, just as people evolve over the years through the various experiences they encounter. People can and do fall out of love all the time, especially when they take their marital status for granted. The key question is can you continue to grow together and nurture the love you have for one another? Only time will tell.
All three of these are legit reasons to get married, and the fact is you should not feel like you have to justify your logic to anyone else. You just need to be honest with yourself about the main motivation, and understand the pitfalls as outlined above.
After all these years of helping people either structure their marriages on the front-end, or unravel them in the back-end, one thing is very clear: marriage is hard work, and satisfaction is not guaranteed. That said, the rewards are amazing, and even after all these years of being divorced and helping others through their heartbreak, I have not forgotten or become blind to the benefits of being in a happy union. Thankfully, I know I am not alone.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.